Norex International offers precious support to steel suppliers, buying and then selling secondary steel to entrepreneurial companies who can make the most of defective parts and use them in their own production processes, creating a reduction in cost and environmental footprint
It took some time for Norex to find its true vocation, but the Sweden-based steel recycling and service company is now occupying a comfortable position in the niche market of buying and selling secondary steel. “The company was founded by my father and my uncle in 1983, who would try out multiple businesses in the first decade of its history, including a steel service centre,” Norex’s CEO, David Fredriksson begins. “In the following ten years, they began to trade with Russia, which was just starting to open up to a wider international trade after the collapse of the Soviet Union. When I joined the company in 2002, and took over as a CEO a year later, we started to adopt a more organised approach to what we are still doing.”
But, what is Norex actually doing? David answers this question in detail: “Our business has two divisions – trade and services. The former of the two deals with our buying defective steel items from steel producers and selling it usually to small- and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) that can use these products in their own operations, even with their minor defects. We buy and accept almost every type of item and we have found ourselves in a very small niche of the market, where we can help manufacturers keep their stocks low by purchasing from them the small percentage of defective products that have come out of their processes.
“Buying the secondary steel is the beginning of a chain process that involves classifying, describing,storing, and then the eventual selling of the product. Our staff review every single bundle of steel on an item-by-item basis, using our unique classification system to sort every product, and then describe it as well as we can, including the type of its defect, its specifications, its dimensions, and any other information that the customer might need. After that, we put a price tag on every single product and we are ready to take these to our clients. We trade worldwide, but we are particularly strong in Central and Eastern Europe,” David explains.
“The second division at Norex is our Service Division, with 50 of our 80 employees working in it,” he continues. “We opened this side of the business in 2007 after we made a number of strategic acquisitions, which have enabled us to establish a presence not just in Sweden, but also in Finland. We offer a variety of scrap related services, such as logistics management, measurement, sorting, and transportation. We can also upgrade parts for higher value, and we even operate complete production lines to make and cut material, all to the specific requirements of every individual client. For example, we do alot of shredding to make a more valuable cooling scrap. Last year, we added a new service to our offerings – flame cutting, when we acquired a company specialised in this process, so now, we can deliver this type of work across two of our locations. We invested in a new, state-of-the-art cutting station where flame-cutting robots cut large pieces of scrap into a lot smaller components. It is mainly an automated process, but we sometimes do manual cutting, too, for pieces that cannot be handled in any other way. It was a real highlight for us in 2017, and we are eager to use this new service of ours as a platform to grow organically in the years to come.”
Norex has established a respectable network of warehouses across Europe to facilitate the sourcing of steel. The company owns and runs two buildings in Sweden – in Gothenburg and Uddevalla, and rents a number of others – in Antwerp, Szczecin (Poland), Newport, and Saint Petersburg, among others. “We are already buying a lot of our material from quite a number of countries, such as the Nordic ones, Germany, Russia, and the UK, but we are definitely looking to further expand our sourcing and purchasing network in the next three to five years, particularly in continental Europe,” David maintains.
“It is a very specific market we are operating in, as secondary steel trade represents a tiny portion of the whole steel industry, so we have to continue optimising our activities and strengthening our position in the area where we are. We believe that many companies make the mistake of trying to mix too many sectors together, so our approach is to focus on what we have already built, and try to develop it further. We made some changes in the strategy for our trade division in 2013, so we have moved towards getting closer to the end user over the past couple of years, and sell more to them. Thanks to this approach, we were able to extend our customer base and strengthen our delivery, and our intentions are to continue in a similar vein in the future. We are keen not only to reinforce our customer network, but also to improve the way in which we serve our clients, in every sense,” David outlines some of the plans Norex has in the long-run.
Having embraced an unconventional approach to its activities within the steel industry, Norex can be perceived as an incredibly helpful provider of services that hold equal value for steel manufacturers and end users, alike. While the former can reduce the number of defective pieces they need to deal with internally, the latter can acquire these, together with all the necessary information for their condition, which will allow them to select only those goods that will accurately fit their production processes and add real value to their operations, at a reasonable price. Last, but not least, Norex also contributes positively to the more efficient handling and treatment of scrap, thanks to its services division, reducing waste and offering a second life to a number of steel parts, thus confirming its credentials as a sustainable steel solutions supplier.
Norex International AB
Products and services: Secondary steel parts; steel scrap handling